Type 2 diabetes is a serious and prevalent disease, but numerous myths surround this condition. Diabetes causes blood sugar levels to become too high, and it damages the body. In some cases, it can be fatal.

Diabetes is a chronic health condition that affects 30.3 million adults in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The World Health Organization (WHO) state that the number of people living with diabetes has been steadily rising worldwide.

There are two main types of diabetes:

  • Type 1: The body’s immune system attacks the cells that produce insulin.
  • Type 2: The body is resistant to the action of insulin and fails to produce sufficient amounts of this hormone to compensate.

There is another type of diabetes called gestational diabetes, which only affects pregnant women and usually resolves after they give birth.

In this article, we discuss five common myths about type 2 diabetes.

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Sugar consumption alone may not always lead to type 2 diabetes.

A study in Nature Reviews Endocrinology reports that a combination of genetic and lifestyle factors causes type 2 diabetes.

In particular, physical inactivity, weight gain, and obesity have strong links to type 2 diabetes. Weight gain usually occurs because a person consumes more calories than they burn off.

A high-calorie diet does not necessarily have to include significant quantities of sugar, although sugar does contain many calories.

All forms of diabetes can have a severe effect on the body. Many different complications have links to diabetes, including:

Getting treatment and making effective lifestyle changes to achieve good blood sugar control can reduce the risk of complications. However, they are still possible, particularly in the long term.

In some cases, diabetes can be fatal. The WHO estimate that diabetes was the direct cause of around 1.6 million deaths worldwide in 2016.

Research has shown that there is a relationship between type 2 diabetes and weight gain and obesity.

However, it is possible to have type 2 diabetes without being overweight or obese. Around 12.5 percent of adults with type 2 diabetes are not overweight. It is possible that a lean adult who presents with new-onset diabetes may have latent autoimmune diabetes, which people sometimes refer to as “type 1.5” diabetes.

A 2012 study found that adults with new-onset diabetes who are a healthy weight have a higher risk of mortality than those who are overweight.

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Fresh fruit is part of a healthful diet, and it contains fructose.

It is true that people with type 2 diabetes should eat a healthful diet, and these diets are generally low in sugar. However, it may not be necessary to avoid sugar entirely.

For instance, fruits contain fructose, which is a type of sugar, but they also provide fiber and a range of vitamins and minerals.

The American Diabetes Association encourage people with diabetes to include fresh, frozen, or canned fruits with no added sugar in their diet.

People with diabetes should avoid sugary drinks though. An analysis of data from 310,819 people found that the risk of type 2 diabetes was more significant in those who consumed sugary drinks more regularly.

In the early stages of type 2 diabetes, the symptoms are generally less noticeable than they are in type 1 diabetes.

It is possible for someone to have type 2 diabetes without knowing it. A CDC report estimated that around 7.2 million people did not have a diagnosis for their diabetes in 2015.

Type 2 diabetes is a serious, lifelong condition that can lead to significant complications. It is possible to treat diabetes with a combination of medication and lifestyle changes. People with a healthy body weight may still develop the condition.

Eating a healthful diet, which may still include some forms of sugar, and remaining physically active are effective ways to minimize the risk of diabetes.

Having a support system in place that understands what it is like to live with type 2 diabetes is important. T2D Healthline is a free app that provides support through one-on-one conversations and live group discussions with people who get it. Download the app for iPhone or Android.

Read this article in Spanish.